Us city dwellers live in high pressure, high stress, intense, testing and exhausting environments.
The importance of getting away from all of this is really absolutely central to our existence, particularly for those who live surrounded by the intensity of a city. I have not taken a proper break since…well, probably since Christmas. I feel it. I can feel it in my bones; through every fibre of my being. It screams out for me to take it out of this hyper-unnatural environment of the big city and away to the open fields, fresh air and quiet that it innately recognises as the environment for a mammal.
This is why I cannot wait to escape London for a week. Don’t get me wrong, living here is exhilarating and I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world right now, but I am of the firm belief that one needs to escape every few months to prevent the city from sapping every last ounce of energy. London is a place that never really gives one the chance to completely unwind and let oneself fully relax. A small part is always ticking over, always aware of the noisy, smelly and busy surroundings.
Just so long as ones bucolic escape plans don’t result in a Withnalian catastrophe, then such things are good for re-energizing the spirit and “centring” ourselves. Maybe some people don’t need or desire this escape in order to live in this, or any other city. Some do, myself included. In order to live here, I have to get out and take a break from the place lest it wear me down to a fine black dust, to end up on the tissue of some weary tube commuter.
On account of lacking something about which to write, I decided to do 3 random article generations on wikipedia and base some sort of small fiction upon them. Here is what Jimmy sodding Wales gave me:
Tsez people (aka Dido/Didoi) - indiginous people of the north caucuses. They have an unwritten language.
Bass trumpet - a low trumpet
Tom Parlon - former Irish Progressive Democrats Politician. Currently a lobbyist for the construction industry federation of Ireland.
Tom stared lovingly at the beautiful brass instrument. The “big brass beast” he liked to call it. Though he’d once been a prominent politician and currently held a high position as a lobbyist for the construction industry federation of Ireland, the fact that he was also a highly accomplished bass trumpeter was knowledge reserved only to a very select few.
He puckered his face into his finest embouchure and let fly. The beast sang in his embrace, letting out a sound that was by his own admission at times, slightly foghorn like, but for the most part the sound swirled around like rich treacle.
He always began the day with between fifteen and thirty minutes on the bass trumpet. He felt that it grounded him in a way that allowed him to take on any challenge the day might throw at him in his role at the construction industry federation. Those smooth tones had a way of soothing the soul and leaving one with a pleasant energy that lasted the day.
Half way across the world, one man said to another, (but obviously not in English, I’m translating freely as I go), “Hey, that was really interesting. I’d like to remember that fact for future reference.” The other man replied, “Yeah, you always seem to forget this, but we’re the Tsez people. We have an unwritten language.” “Shit…” muttered the first man, and continued, “Yeah, you’re right, I do forget these things. Although that’s somewhat understandable if you have a really inconvenient system of language whereby you can’t write anything down to preserve ideas and facts and the like. It’s a real ballache. Ho hum.”
Tom had no idea that these people existed. He put down his bass trumpet, and made his way to the office. It was going to be another good day. He just knew.
In some respects, this will reflect a similar feeling to my writing yesterday about the changing of the seasons. The movement from one season to another is nature’s way of ending one thing whilst beginning something else. Our lives are full of such endings and new beginnings. Endings can be deeply sad occasions yet at the same time, there are often new things to look forward to at the same time.
It’s natural to have a sense of sadness when something comes to and end coupled with a feeling that things may never quite be the same afterwards, even if we have new and exciting experiences to look forward to.
The events through which I feel give the best examples of these types of “endings” in my life are when the forming of a household with a group of friends reaches its end stage. These situations have always had an effect on me as the sense of things “never being the same” is, I feel, most profound given the bonds one can form with people one lives with. The severing of these bonds and moving away from these people after spending so long together can be deeply upsetting.
Aside from the very rare drink or email, I have largely fallen out of contact with the friends I lived with at university, yet at the time I wept like a baby when we moved out as I had become so close to them. We had shared many fantastic times together and it was inevitable that these would not be repeated, at least not with the same frequency as before. A few years later, I found myself crying at a bus stop after moving out of my first flat in London that I’d shared with friends to whom I had become very close. I think part of the reason for these tears is the feeling that those relationships may never quite be the same again - at the fundamental level it’s clear that if you’re not living with someone you won’t be talking to them on a daily basis. At a deeper level, simply inhabiting the same space gives you an insight into someone that may not be afforded to you otherwise.
I don’t quite know where to take this next - it feels like I’ve reached an ending but there is maybe more to be said…Perhaps it’s worth adding that yes, the relationships are different and one may see less of some people and fall out of touch with others, but this will never take away the good times that were had in those periods of living together. I hold fond memories of all (well, most of!) the places and people I’ve lived with, and though I may not see them all or talk to them all as much as I’d like to nowadays, we still shared some special moments. Moments that have played a part in shaping the people we were then and the people we have since become.
To anyone I care for but don’t see or talk to enough - I still love you and let’s hang out soon yes?
The Summer to Autumn change of seasons is always a time of mixed emotions. It signifies the end of those (admittedly quite few) hot summer days with their long, warm evenings, in exchange for the ever increasing night time hours and the drawing in of colder weather. We regret the summer’s passing and the loss of the longer days, yet we look forward to the autumn and winter months of hibernating in our warm homes, curled up with a good book or comforting film. It’s something of a beautiful change, as the warmth diminishes, the leaves turn those beautiful rich shades and fall to the ground, leaving their hosts that have been so green and proud all summer long as craggy skeletons.
It’s deeply ingrained as a time of year for change in us too - not only does the change in season have an affect on us as animals, but we’ve also been trained to see it as a period of change from our earliest days. In education, it is the start of the new school year, so we come, over our many years spent within this institution, to associate this time of year with change and the mixed feelings of mourning for the summer that is coming to an end and the slight trepidation mixed with excitement for what’s ahead.
It’s a wonderful time of year for good, hearty food, open fires (for those lucky enough to have one!), the delicious, emotive smell of bonfires in the crisp air and for starting to build up the warm layers of clothing over the months into wintertime.
Seeing off the summer is surely a sad thing, but welcoming the autumn and all the beauty and intrigue that it and its not far off sibling winter can bring us is surely a very special time of year. We should all embrace it.
As this period of writing something every day for a month comes near to its end - there are perhaps 3 or 4 days left in order to complete a full 30/31 days, I’m reflecting on something that in its realisation, hasn’t turned out quite how I would have hoped when I started.
Sure, there have been some pieces to which I’ve managed to dedicate a bit more time and thought, and which have perhaps sparked off some interesting discussions, but amidst those there’s been an awful lot of filler. Ok, there are still a few entries left for me to explore a couple of the other topics that I wanted to when starting out, but I’d be lying if I said what has resulted is what I was aiming for in the first place.
Maybe once it’s done I’ll read back over the last 30 or so pieces of writing and this may give me a more positive spin on things, yet right now I feel like it’s been a wasted opportunity, given that I have mostly crammed the writing in during the last hour or so before going to bed. Seeing this as a more of a chore than something to really get into and enjoy certainly hasn’t helped, and I’m saddened by myself that my attitude has not changed. Though, as I wrote a while back in these entries - perhaps I’m one of those people for whom the satisfaction comes not through the doing but rather in the end result of that doing.
Time will tell.
I, like a great deal of other humans, live in a loud and busy city that’s full of other people forcing themselves into your personal space on a regular basis. The importance of a place where one can go to and be calm and restful really cannot be understated in these circumstances.
For me, my house is this place. To come back to a house full of visitors, mess and stuff everywhere would be my idea of a living nightmare. After a day tackling public transport, navigating through thousands of other people and the daily frustration of work, is it too much to ask to return to a house that is calm, quiet and relaxing to be in? I really don’t think it is.
I like my own space and like to be on my own after a day spent surrounded by so much activity and by many other people. I could not shut myself off in my own little world if the house I lived in was a constant hive of activity, it would be far too distracting.
There are those who love to come back to a bustling and disorganised house and who cannot live for five minutes without the company of another person. That’s fine. I bear no grudges or ill will towards these people in the slightest - it’s just not a way I could possibly live and you know what, they’d probably say the same about my life.
Call me boring if you will. I won’t have too much trouble getting over it.
I was going to write something about Neil Armstrong, conspiracy theorists and convictions. However, you’ll just have to imagine what I would have written about that. Then you can imagine yourself agreeing or disagreeing with me, and the ensuing interesting discussion that would have no doubt resulted. Instead, I give you these ridiculous few lines:
‘Stephen’ or ‘Not based on true events.’
Stephen inspected the bare kitchen cupboards for the fifth time within the space of the hour since getting home from work. Though he hoped that the next time he looked there would be more than just the dented can of asda smart price baked beans, the dusty packet of long past their ‘best before date’ lentils and a questionable looking onion, he knew deep down that he would be faced by the same forlorn scene.
“Oh well”, he thought, “Indian again”
I seem to have been very much “otherwise occupied” recently, waht with work and various other things going on at the moment.
Tonight I managed to end up spending virtually the entire evening trying to sort out our wireless router after I rather foolishly decided to completely reset it without any of the required settings. Somehow, through a mixture of calling up our ISP and finding out all sorts of many and varied codes online, I managed to get it back up and running.
It did have a somewhat positive outcome though as I am now able to connect my new (and still largely unused) smartphone. It’s still mostly sitting on my desk with me eyeing it up suspiciously. I’m still not sure what it’s capable of, nor what glorious things I could and should be doing with it. Perhaps I’ll download (they don’t even provide you with a decent printed on these days) what my dad calls the “book of words” and see what that says. Either that or there must be swathes of internet dedicated to fools like me about how to make the most out of your smartphone.
The chief reason I’m not using it is because I don’t want to run the battery down. I will be forever worried about this after moving on from the long run of nokias I’ve had - those things just never run out.
This has turned into another post about smartphones. You’ll think I’m a man obsessed. I’m not. They still perplex me greatly.